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Deception and Misreporting in a Social Program

  • Cesar Martinelli
  • Susan W Parker

We investigate empirically the extent of misreporting in a poverty alleviation program in which self-reported information, followed by a household visit, is used to determine eligibility. In the model we propose and estimate, underreporting may be due to a deception motive, and overreporting to an embarrassment motive. We find that underreporting of goods and desirable home characteristics is widespread, and that overreporting is common with respect to goods linked to social status. Larger program benefits encourage underreporting and discourage overreporting. We also estimate the costs of lying and embarrassment for different goods, and show that the embarrassment cost for lacking a good is proportional to the percentage of households who own the good. (JEL: D01, I32, I38, C25) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 843644000000000191.

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Date of creation: 22 Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:843644000000000191
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  1. Currie, Janet, 2004. "The Take-Up of Social Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 1103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  3. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Brugiavini, Agar, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 757-79, October.
  4. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2008. "Differences in the Economic Decisions of Men and Women: Experimental Evidence," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  5. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  6. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
  7. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  8. Riphahn, Regina T., 2000. "Rational Poverty or Poor Rationality? The Take-up of Social Assistance Benefits," IZA Discussion Papers 124, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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